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Exclusive Vatican interview as Pope visits UK

15/09/10 21:26 CET

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euronews has been given an exclusive interview in the Palazzo Apostolico, the administrative heart of the Vatican. It is here that the Roman Catholic church manages its international relations with the world. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is the pope’s right hand man.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
Cardinal, you are the main organiser of the Vatican’s policies. Over the summer some progress was made with democracy in Cuba and the nominations of bishops in China has started again. What are the next objectives?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State (Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church):
We’re following developments in the Cuban nation and also new perspectives, not only in that region but the world over.

Regarding China, we’re following the problems of the Christian community in China, along the lines laid out by Pope Benedict 16th in his famous letter to Chinese Catholics on 27th of May, 2007.
We’re also looking closely and intensely at other regions of the world.

I would really like to talk about the Middle East and the initiative of the next synod which will take place on October the 10th.

It’s a very broad initiative that brings together bishops representing the episcopacies of local churches, and also non-catholic representatives from all countries of the Middle East, and Muslim representatives who will come to present their viewpoints. It’s part of our ongoing commitment.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
The pope is beginning a visit to Great Britain. How will he speak to the spiritual representatives of the Anglican church?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
There’s a great respect for Anglican traditions which fit in completely with catholicism. The ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and Anglican churches will continue and we will renew the members of the bilateral commission to continue the central themes of the ecumenical dialogue.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
How would you define relations between the Vatican and the United Kingdom? During his election campaign, the prime minister David Cameron clearly distanced himself from the Catholic church on issues like contraception and homosexuality.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
Obviously if one tackles the themes of contraception, sexuality, biotechnology etcetera – these are burning issues on which the church, which is dedicated to humanity, maintains very solid positions. But more than that, it has to be said that this trip to Great Britain is the first State visit….

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
The first?….

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
…the first State visit, and so it has a political element. Through diplomatic consultations there’s a whole series of collaborations for the integral development of human relations, to enrich people – for example for the reduction of international debt, during the jubilee year. After talks with the Vatican, Great Britain agreed to reduce the debt of the poorest nations. these are all things we can discuss through political dialogue to work together and get concrete results.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
The worst unhappiness has been left out. How can you explain the exclusion from the priesthood of candidates who declare their homosexuality?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
The catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that “homosexual acts are intrinsically ‘out of step’ and not normal.” Even if this tendency is experienced as a great suffering by many people, like an trial, homosexuals should be treated with respect. But for all that, it does not justify admitting them to all functions within the church. This exclusion — you could equally quote the example of the exclusion of women from the priesthood — but this exclusion does not prevent their inclusion in many other activities and roles.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
For years the church has apologised to women and to Jews for schisms, but how can the church hope to recover the complete confidence of the world? There’s still a feeling that the church and the rest of the world, the rest of humanity, are marching to a different rhythm, and because of that mismatch it has to say sorry. Why?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
Right now, you have to remember that the development of society was promoted and produced by the church. The development of civilisation has been forged by the church. You could think of everything done by the monks in the Middle Ages, they brought civilisation to Europe – including England – begun by the monks sent by Pope Gregory, the first being Saint Augustin.

I must say that the church is saying sorry for the sins of its sons, but we would really also like to see other states and other groups of people have the courage to say sorry for the bad that they have caused throughout history.

Paolo A.Valenti – euronews:
But there’s a balancing act between religion and politics. How can you reconcile the demands of starving migrants who come here, and the demands of the rich countries which are going to send them home, to reject them?

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone:
That’s another problem. The church has already spoken on the question of their legally welcoming migrants. Soon, you’ll see, there’ll be the pope’s message on World Refugee Day, the 16th of January next year. The pope will clearly set out the church directives, including on that issue.

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